The University of Alabama held its annual pro day Wednesday with 12 draft-eligible Crimson Tide players participating and all 32 NFL teams in attendance.
Pittsburgh Steelers' general manager Kevin Colbert and Tennessee Titans' GM Ruston Webster were just a couple of the marquee names in attendance from across the National Football League.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban was impressed with the turnout of NFL scouts and proud of the way his Alabama players have developed on and off the field during their time at the Capstone.
"The three things that we do for our players here is help them develop personally, let them have more success in their life and be involved in the program and make good choices and decisions," Saban said. "We want them to develop a career off the field by graduating from school, which we have had pretty good success.
"We also want to help them develop a career as a football player, which means have a great career here, win a championship and see if you can play at the next level. So we are always pleased that we have guys getting drafted and getting opportunities to have a career at the next level. Obviously, if you are a first-round draft pick, that is going to enhance your chances of doing it."
Draft-eligible Crimson Tide athletes that participated were: John Michael Boswell, Josh Chapman, Nick Gentry, Darius Hanks, Jerrell Harris, Phelon Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Alfred McCullough, DeQuan Menzie, Brad Smelley, William Vlachos and Alex Watkins.
Players started the day in the weight room where their weight, height, standing broad jump, vertical jump and bench press were checked. After finishing in the weight room they moved to the indoor football facility where they completed the 40-yard dash, agility testing and position-specific drills.
Mark Barron, Trent Richardson, Courtney Upshaw and Marquis Maze did not participate on Wednesday and will hold a pro day on Thursday, March 29, on the Alabama campus. Their pro day is tentatively scheduled for 9 a.m.
The NFL Draft will be held April 26-28 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
The 2012 Crimson Tide football team beings spring practice at 3:30 p.m. Friday. The 2012 A-Day Game is slated for 2 p.m. on April 14.
Quotes from Alabama's Pro Day
Head Coach Nick Saban
On DeQuan Menzie's day:
"I think that everyone is going to look at the whole body of work. Hopefully (he) ran a little bit better today, I don't know, I didn't hear all the times that the guys ran but I think what you look at is, if you look at all of our film from last year, and you were a scout, you would say that this guy never looks speed-deficient on the field. He runs, he covers people, the same kind of people you are going to cover at the next level, very good nickel-back, what we call star, good blitzer, good tackler, very instinctive. He could probably be a cover safety at the next level, so because he is a good football player. I think people are going to find ways to use him at the next level."
On Dequan Menzie's abilities, potential and what makes him successful:
"I think the kind of football player he is, I mean people really like him on tape. He's been one of the best corners that we have had here, and if you look at the history of it, most of our guys have gotten drafted, and most have made someone's team. He's as good as or better than those guys. So, he is going to make someone's team and be a good player for someone, as well."
On Dre Kirkpatrick's physical set:
"I don't think there is any question about it. To have his size, his speed, his reach, his length. Consistency and technique is what he needs to continue to work on, but it has nothing to do with physical skill. I think people are going to recognize that and say, 'this is the kind of guy we are going to work to develop, and he can be a really good player.' Matchups are a big issue in the NFL, sometimes in terms of the big receivers, and he can matchup very well against those kind of guys."
On the consistency of Alabama to develop high draft picks:
"I am proud of that fact. You know, the three things that we do for our players here is help them develop personally, let them have more success in their life and be involved in the program and make good choices and good decisions. We want them to develop a career off the field by graduating from school, which we have had pretty good success. We also want to help them develop a career as a football player, which means have a great career here, win a championship and see if you can play at the next level. So we are always pleased that we have guys getting drafted and getting opportunities to have a career at the next level. Obviously, if you are a first round draft pick, that is going to enhance your chances of doing it."
On Dont'a Hightower's jump from a college defense to a professional defense:
"I think that he has done it all here. He's got a lot of diversity as a player, because he has played a lot of different positions. I think he is going to offer the same thing at the next level; inside backer, nickel backer, defensive end and odd rusher. So there are not many other things that you can do, and I think he does all those things very well. I think he is very smart, he has leadership qualities. I think people are starting to recognize that the more and more they are around him."
On the players' challenges to get ready for their pro day later in March:
"Well, I think they are all working hard, and I think they have all made good decisions based on most of it being injury type things. Courtney [Upshaw] has a little bit of tendonitis in his knee, [he's] trying to work through that. Things seem to be a little accelerated this year, there wasn't a lot of time between when we last played and the Senior Bowl, and then the combine. I think having our spring break early and our pro day is a little earlier, so to give these guys a little time, Mark [Barron] and Trent [Richardson] to come back from their injuries, I think is probably a positive thing for those guys. They are all working hard and they are the kind of guys that are going to do a good job of getting ready for it."
On if Courtney Upshaw will be a linebacker or defensive end at the next level:
"Well, I think he's going to be a combination of both, just like he was here. I think he can play 3-4 outside backer, which he has done here, and he's also had his hand in the dirt and played defensive end a lot. I think he can do both things."
Don't'a Hightower, linebacker
On if there is a load off his shoulders now that Pro Day is over:
"Just a little bit. I still have another Pro Day I'm going to do with Trent (Richardson) and Mark (Barron) and all those guys. That's actually on the (March) 29, so I still have room for improvement. I'm still going to work on that. I'm just going to keep going the way I've been going."
On what he accomplished today:
"I feel like I showed everyone that I do have good hips. I'm able to come out of break pretty well. I feel like I did pretty well as far as the position goes. I'm not really a drill guy, but once you get me in the pads and on the field I feel like I did a really good job."
On questions about his knee injury:
"I still get it all the time which you can't really blame people for asking about it. In Indianapolis I got the MRIs, the x-rays, the whole long of it, but I really feel like I've answered all the questions about the knee."
Dequan Menzie, defensive back
On the difficulty of the NFL Combine process:
"It's just like getting recruited out of high school. It's a crazy process, but at the same time you just have to take it in and take it for what it's worth and just deal with it."
On how he feels about playing free safety instead of cornerback:
"I don't mind at all. I play it all. I played safety in the Senior Bowl, played safety in high school, played corner here and played in the middle spot. It really doesn't matter. Coach Saban put me through all of that."
On what he will do until the NFL Draft:
"It's real hard, but you've just got to keep focused and you've just got to keep training. That's what I'm doing – Me, Kirk, Dont'a and all of us are just going to keep training and getting better."
Jerrell Harris, linebacker
On the importance of Alabama's Pro Day for the players that did not go to the NFL Combine:
"It was most important for us because we never really know how many chances we are going to get to showcase our talents so it was a very productive day."
On if he was nervous for Pro Day:
"I was more just anxious. I've been training for a long time."
Dre Kirkpatrick, defensive back
On how his speed and length will affect his abilities in the NFL:
"I feel like it will speak pretty highly of me being a big guy that is able to move. Just going out there and doing everything that they put in front of me."
On what he was hoping to accomplish at Pro Day:
"It was pretty much dominating all of the goals that they put in front of me. Everything that's a task because right now pretty much everything is on the line. Just going out there and executing.
On his size:
"I feel like I did a pretty good job. My size was a big question. People wanted to know if I could move with my size and that was one of the goals. That was something that I needed to go out there and prove to people. I feel that I did a great job of trying to achieve it. Not achieving but just trying to achieve it."
Defensive Lineman Josh Chapman
On Chapman's injury [torn ACL]:
"It's pretty good. They are trying to tell me to get back the right way, don't rush it. I'm one of those guys, wherever I end up, I end up --- just want to be a part of anyone's team. Those guys, they love me because I played the season with an injury, but at the same time I just want to be on someone's team."
On what playing through an injury shows to scouts:
"I mean, it speaks volumes. I feel that I finished the season strong, and I'm a competitor, and I just love the game of football."
On if scouts bring up the rarity of playing through an ACL injury:
"It comes up a lot in interviews, but at the same time I don't use that to help me out; I just use my game film and just go from there."
Offensive Lineman William Vlachos
On today's workout:
"Yes, it was [a hard workout], pretty fast-paced, just trying to show out. We've all been trained for this specific type stuff, we're not exactly in the Nick Saban fourth quarter workout here. It was a little bit tough."
On how toady went:
"It went well. I've put on some weight, I weighed in at 319 [pounds] today. My 40 time was, I heard, five-flat, 5.1, I heard 5.19 – there are about 40 manual clocks out there. I think under a 5.2 at 319 pounds is pretty good."